In NZ, Father’s Day will be held on the 3rd of September this year.
Right now, I’ve been thinking of how much of a selfish douche I must be to have been complaining about my parents to people who have lost both or either of theirs, but I suppose that’s beside the point, at the moment at least.
Here are some assorted thoughts I have about my own father.
Thanks for passing along to me the ability to hold a powerful grudge, despite how irrational. I hold this against you and yes, I am aware of the irony.
Thanks for supporting us financially as my brother and I grew from sad and scared children into depressed and anxious teenagers. You never saved us from our mother, but you saved us from being destitute. I was only ever hungry when I wanted to be, never because there was no food in the house. As bitter as my tone may seem, I am genuinely thankful that you supported us in this particular way, as it must not have been easy. David and I only started supporting ourselves financially at a relatively early age because of our mother’s control issues, never because you failed in this role.
Don’t think that I can’t see you sneaking glances at my body while I am speaking to you. You look away quickly, but never quickly enough. Your brother does it too. I find it hard not to lash out violently whenever I see you doing it, but somehow I manage it. Something inside me doesn’t want to hold it against you as you seem ashamed. If you did it shamelessly, things would be very different. You look, but do not touch. Still, it is not lost on me that this is part of what has set the tone for how I relate to others, especially males.
I feel sad for you that you met my mother and married her. I feel sad that you are still married. I am sad that you had children before you addressed your own childhood problems. That said, I do not plan on having any children of my own. The difference between us is that although we both do not currently have the presence of mind to get over past trauma, I am well aware of how badly this would impact a child who’s just starting out in life, and that they may well be affected by it for the rest of their life. I cannot bring myself to do this to an unsuspecting child, whereas you did.
You may be right about the fact that David left you and our mother behind after you paid for his education, but it is not right that you think he exploited you both. Parents should want their children to do well, and this includes pooling together all available resources for their advantage. If you are not prepared to do this, then you are not prepared for parenthood. And if you hold it against your children that their upbringing costs money, then that is another hang-up that you are passing on to them, and it will manifest in various negative ways that you will probably be ignorant of.
I still remember seeing you and our mother initiating sex in the lounge room. I was quite young; I do not remember how old I was or what time of day it was, but I still remember that I thought you were trying to kill her. I left you both to it. I will never forget this, or my disappointment when I found that afterwards, she was still alive. We have never talked about any of this, and I prefer it that way. I can’t make sense of any of it, and I hate that I can’t seem to forget it happened.
I will always hate you for never sticking up for us kids. You knew something was very wrong with our family, yet you let our mother control every single thing. I think you would have done anything so she wouldn’t leave you, and this included letting her abuse you and us kids. She still abuses you. It’s like she became your mother after yours died.
I keep myself from lashing out at you by imagining you as a child. I have seen a few pictures of you when you were still a small boy, so I know what to visualise. No matter how illogically you act or how drained I feel after spending any length of time talking to you, I could never be angry at the childhood version of you. Any anger I feel in that moment transforms into deep grief for the child you were and in some ways still are.
I remember how I used to see your headlights receding as you would pull out of the driveway to go to work early in the morning. Most of the time, it was still dark. I didn’t have to get up for school yet, but I would always jump to my window and wave at you until you managed to merge into traffic and start on your way. Looking back, I now realise that you would sometimes linger in the driveway when you didn’t need to. And you always smiled and waved back, every single time.
I wish I loved you. Sadly, I don’t think I know what love is. You never taught me, as you were never taught. Or rather, shown. I have guilt, compassion, anger, grief, regret, and longing. I am not prepared to call any of this love, although I may have in the past. I am not prepared to believe that you love anyone either, despite the fact that you may think you do. Attachment is one thing, love is another. Anyway, you are free to continue to believe what you believe, as I feel it may comfort you sometimes and I know you are in need of comfort, among other things.
I feel that you may die in the next ten years or so. I am not sure if anything between us will be fully resolved by then, so I am concentrating on not blaming myself for that. This probably means that I care less about forgiving you, and that I care more about forgiving myself for having the faults I have that stemmed from my upbringing. I can’t make you take blame or responsibility for anything, and this is something I am dealing with. I wish you had done the same for yourself before becoming a father.
Happy Father’s Day.